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My experience with no shouting

By bbbaldie ·
I have several non-nerdy friends and acquaintences who have called me with serious system problems (spyware, viruses, worms, etc. all via unsecured broadband). After I undo the damage (sometimes rebuilding from scratch in serious cases), I leave them with five things: ZoneAlarm, or preferably, a broadband router/firewall; Spybot, set to automatically update and scan nightly; AVG from Grisoft, also set to update and scan nightly; Windows Updates set to do its thing automatically, and Firefox. User is advised to stop using IE. I have yet to have anyone call me with further issues after months. Case closed, as far as I'm concerned.

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Hate it

by house In reply to Opera

Hate it. I installed Opera for about 2 days, and hated it. I don't like Netscape either. Both browsers have a default installation that is so cluttered... I could never get past that initial impression.

I used Netscape a little bit back in the day, but not now. Based on the browser wars in fourth quarter 2004, with the release of the full MS port of FF, I decided to try Netscape again. I was not impressed, and I couldn't sit around long enough to give it a fair trial.

I installed Opera on Redhat 8 a long time ago... no thanks... that's when I ran into Firefox for the first time... while looking for an alternative browser for my Linux box.

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Firefox or IE?

by G... In reply to My experience with no sho ...

I see lots of critics to both here and I've tested both and none are perfect. But i've noticed 2 things:
- firefox is at first a bit more secure but i think it's due to the fact that it's quite new and not so many has tried to hack through it as IE.
- second: end user like better IE (surely because they have seen it before) but it's true there are holes.
For my part i found avant browser alright for a bit extra properties to IE and can also recommand opera as an alternative.

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Mi Casa Su Casa

by lrice In reply to My experience with no sho ...

I have found your list is my experience. I have little repeat of problem reports after cleanup, when I leave the end user with exactly your list.

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use all these items with top results

by cozy In reply to My experience with no sho ...

I have installed the items described many times on PC's except firefox. Nothing against the other browsers but end users are used to IE and provided you have all the security items in place you should not have any real problems. Education of users and creating non admin users in XP is a good idea also.


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Good stuff

by bbbaldie In reply to My experience with no sho ...

I was surprised and flattered that Tech Republic chose to highlight my post.

A few comments: Opera is a killer browser, but in many ways the feel is unlike IE. Users would face a steeper learning curve and may find themselves going back to IE again. Firefox is similar enough in feel that users seem to slip right into using it.

Turning off extra services is a great idea. I'll add that to my list.

Removing admin privileges is also a great idea, but in most cases I'm dealing with some seriously challenged non-techies who wouldn't know how to deal with switching to administrator to install apps. Someday I'll get them running Linux and show them how easy it is to jump to su and back ;-).

As far as education goes, I provide that also, just failed to mention it. In fact users are warned that if they slip back into their unsecure habits, I'll be back to bore them to death with even more details!

Thanks to all for your comments.

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by RivanG In reply to Good stuff

I highly recommend a visit to Black Viper's website for tips on tweaking Windows 2000 and Windows XP services:

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One more tool - Windows Startup Inspector

by PCW In reply to Good stuff

In addition to your list of tools I like to run the freeware app called Windows Startup Inspector. It collects all the processes that fire up when the system starts in a list. Then, through a webb link your list is updated with the definitions of each process, and they are ranked such as "required" "Remove" etc. You can then turn off the proesses you chose not to run at the next boot.

This is most benificial with a system that has been so hammered you can't run hardly anything.

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TeaTimer is good too

by bbbaldie In reply to One more tool - Windows ...

If a user has a little bit of computer sense, I turn TeaTimer on (part of Spybot) and instruct them to not allow registry changes unless they are installing trusted software. Of course, if they are doing some kind of system diagnostic, something may want to write itself in to run on boot. So you have to be careful about user's IT IQ's when deciding whether or not to add this great and efective freebie to the mix.

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The ultimate virus

by PCW In reply to Good stuff

With most of my residential customers the really serious problem they encounter is their children.

Not only are they incubaters that collect and bring home medical viruses from school, they attract malware like magnets atract iron fileings when they cruise the webb. I highly recommend a seperate parent system that is password protected.

Then I train them all on what they do to attract the bad stuff.

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Additional tweaks

by Slade In reply to My experience with no sho ...

I pretty much use all of them and in addition to Firefox, I use Avant browser with a built-in pop-up blocker, Ad blocker and tab interface like Firefox. I use Avant browser alongside Firefox because there are just some sites that Firefox is not able to load properly. I also use AVG, Ad-aware in addition to Spybot. Lastly, I put the address of many ad sites to in the hosts file.

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